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Exclusive: VB Superintendent Invited to State Lab Schools Task Force

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Beach Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence has been asked to join Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s Laboratory and Innovation Schools Task Force.

The invitation came March 2 from Virginia Secretary of Education Aimee Guidera through an email sent by Emily Webb, director of the Virginia Department of Education’s relationship council. 10 On Your Side investigators obtained the email through a Freedom of Information Act request.

“We are interested in learning more about your Academy of Environmental Studies, your innovative program design, your partnerships with business and higher education, and how your school is helping meet a need in the community,” wrote Webb.

The group is officially called the College Partnership Lab Schools Working Group. It was formed when Youngkin announced that he would make school choice and charter schools part of his education program. In January, Youngkin announced plans to use $150 million to create 20 new charter schools, including “lab innovation” schools, in Virginia.

There are currently two charter schools in the Hampton Roads area: York Academy Regional Charter School and Green Run Collegiate (GRC) inside Green Run High School in Virginia Beach.

In a separate email, Guidera told task force members that their input will “ensure that the application and funding processes around lab schools are designed for positive impact and long-term success and sustainability.” .

10 On Your Side reached out to Spence to comment on the invite. He declined to provide one, but a spokesperson for his office said the invitation was the result of a conversation Spence had with Guidera at the Virginia General Assembly several weeks ago.

Another representative from the Virginia Beach schools was on the task force. School board member Victoria Manning was removed from the group at the end of February after making controversial comments about students learning English as a second language.

Spence’s invitation to the group was unrelated to Manning’s withdrawal, a school spokesperson said.